Their field of dreams

The Hadfields'' Australia Day backyard pitch.

By Russell Bennett

The legend of the backyard field of dreams created by Casey-South Melbourne cricketer Dylan Hadfield and his father just continues to grow.

Star News sports journalist Nick Creely first wrote on the story of the Hadfields’ Australia Day backyard cricket field in February last year, and since then it’s gone global.

After getting plenty of love on Australian Twitter page ‘The Perfect Pitch’, it went on to receive worldwide attention and has now been dubbed ‘The best backyard in the world’ by UK page, Cricket District.

“I really have no idea how it has gained so much momentum,” Dylan explained earlier this week.

“The guys at The Perfect Pitch are awesome – they kind of started the social media bandwagon around backyard cricket pitches and it’s just gone from there.

“They always check in and ask how it’s going, and share any tips that they might have on preparation.”

But Dylan admitted the social media attention was starting to get a little much.

“The social media stuff is a little embarrassing to be honest – (for) a grown man and his father creating a backyard cricket ground, but if anyone out there gets some inspiration or some joy from seeing the photos then that’s fantastic,” he said.

“I have been extremely lucky to have grown up with that backyard and it’s nice that people enjoy it, there are some pretty crap things happening in the world at the moment so I’m sure any bit of positivity is welcomed.”

Dylan explained the story behind the kind of backyard cricket ground that dreams are made of.

“It’s been something that my old man and I have been preparing for Australia Day each year for a game of backyard cricket with the boys from the cricket club,” he said.

“The annual ‘City versus Gippsland Test Match’ started off as a bit of release from the stressors that Premier Cricket can sometimes throw at you, but since Nick’s article last year we have had to find a way to improve on it each year.”

Some of the biggest names in world cricket have stood up and taken notice – including none other than the England national team’s World Cup-winning skipper, Eoin Morgan.

He recently retweeted the Cricket District tweet describing the Hadfields’ backyard as the best in the world, adding: “This is class”.

“The photos of the pitch do seem to have got a bit of traction on social media lately – it may have something to do with people being bored at home in isolation,” Dylan said.

“It’s just nice to see that there are other cricket nuffies like me out there who get a bit of joy out of any little piece of cricket we can get.

“I think the attention it gets from the crickets superstars just shows that deep down us cricketers are all the same – we love cricket. Whether that is having a hit in the backyard, club cricket, Premier cricket or International cricket – we are all the same.”

But Dylan was reluctant to take too much of the credit when it comes to the cricket lovers’ slice of paradise.

“It’s all my old man’s work really, I don’t have much to do with it anymore after I moved out of home a few years ago,” he acknowledged.

“Dad is a golf course superintendent and has been a cricket club groundsman in his time, so growing grass it what he does best.

“For 11 months of the year it is just a backyard for ‘Murphy the Labradoodle’, but once a year we spend the time to cut, roll and prepare it all.”

Dylan went on to further explain the genesis of the wicket.

“It is actually and proper turf wicket that Dad created when I was a kid so I could get some throw downs or have a bowl on some turf at home,” he said.

“With it being a clay base and Santa Ana couch grass it takes a good three to four weeks of cutting and rolling to get it playable.

“If we were brave enough we could put the pads on and steam in with a brand new Kookaburra.

“In hindsight it is a fair amount of time and effort that gets put in for one day’s play a year, but we have a good time, the cricket is competitive and everyone’s family, partners and children come and watch and have a barbecue.

“It’s pretty much an unofficial club function – that’s the main reason we do it. “Premier cricket can be pretty stressful and time consuming at times, so it’s nice to have a break from all that, enjoy the game for what it’s meant to be – being out in the sun with family and friends.”